Uihei Village Coordinator
The Collected Works of
always found that a sense of humour
will get you through anything.”
Rose Mary Keller Hughes,
Published at DVHH.org
20 Nov 2005
by Jody McKim Pharr.
latest interview is with a person most of you know in a
variety of ways. Diana Lambing is our English Donauschwaben
sister who has come forth many times to translate something
for us. Diana, I have learned, has a great joy for living
and a wonderful sense of humor. So, with great pleasure, I
bring you this interview with Diana...
were you born? We know you live in England but some of us
don’t know if you were born there.
born on 28th July 1949 in Brocket Hall, a large country
house set in acres of grounds near Welwyn in Hertfordshire,
just north of London. The manor house, owned by Lord
Brocket, had been used as a maternity hospital during, and
just after, the war.
your family to England? Some of us in North America were
ever so sure that our Donauschwaben ancestors came either to
the US or Canada - we have learned differently
from having you
and others as our list friends.
mother was a young Swiss woman who had come to
England to work as a children's nanny near Welwyn.
My father was an ex-prisoner of war, originally from
Uihei in the Banat. He had joined the Romanian
army as a musician at the age of 17, and after seven
years had switched to the German army in 1943, when
all the Donauschwaben men were given the opportunity
to do so, i.e. when Hitler needed more cannon fodder
and looked to all ethnic Germans living outside
Germany to fill this need. Dad later said that
changing to the German army was the best thing he
ever did, as most of his
Nikolaus Lambing (1933-1947)
old mates who stayed in the Romanian army were sent to Siberia and never heard of again. Romania changed allegiance in August 1944; so all ethnic Germans in Romania were now regarded as the enemy. My father gave himself up to the British army when he was in Austria in 1945, running away from the advancing Russians. He was then taken to a camp in Italy, where there were many other German prisoners, and later shipped to England as a prisoner of war in August 1946.
My parents met one day in January
1948 in Welwyn, when my mother was in town with three other
Swiss girls, and my father and his fellow prisoners had been
allowed out of the nearby camp for the first time. As
both groups were speaking a German dialect, they all got to
know each other.
My parents married in February 1949 and we all
lived in a small gypsy caravan in a field for the first few
months of my life, until Dad spotted an advert in the local
paper where an old London double-decker bus was up for
He bought the red London bus, painted it green, had
the wheels removed, fitted a makeshift door to the entrance,
and at weekends and evenings would fit out the
in front of the bus
bus to make it as habitable as possible before Christmas 1949. It was parked at the edge of a field, next to a wood and close to where he worked as a market gardener. We had no running water or electricity, but photos from that time show us all as being happy. My brother Roland was born in September 1950, and the four of us continued to live in the bus until autumn 1952.
moved to our first proper house, which was a tied cottage* belonging to the estate of the next aristocratic family that
Dad worked for at Shuckburgh Hall in Warwickshire. All
ex-prisoners of war were allowed to work only on the land,
i.e. in farming or gardening, for several years after the
war. In 1954, my second brother,
Nicolas, was born, and in 1958 we moved again to a sweet little 18th century stone cottage in Lincolnshire, where Dad still worked as a gardener to a titled family. Our last move in England was in 1961 to Leicestershire, where my youngest brother, Peter was born.
In 1963, the whole family visited
my mother's family in Switzerland (she hadn't seen them
since our last visit in 1951 when we lived in the bus). All
her brothers and sisters persuaded my parents to immigrate
to Switzerland, as prospects were better there at that
time. We would live in the old family house with my Swiss
grandfather. And so our family left England in March 1964,
much to my dismay. I did NOT want to leave my friends and
the grammar school I attended, and was desperately homesick
for England all the time I lived in Switzerland (five
years). However, I survived! We children were thrown in at
the deep end and had to immediately start school in the
German part of Switzerland, not knowing a word of the
language (maybe not quite true, as I could say yes and no,
and I could count to ten!). We lived with my Swiss
grandfather for a year, but his dislike of my father caused
problems, and we finally had to move elsewhere in the
In 1965, my grandmother from Uihei
was finally allowed out of Romania for three weeks to visit
us. She had not seen my father for over 20 years. The
following year, my grandfather from Uihei was allowed to
stay with us for three months. In 1967, our whole family
visited Uihei for the first time, staying for six weeks
during the long, hot summer.
your schooling? Anything about your work history you would
like to share?
1968 I had finished my three years apprenticeship (Kaufmännische
Lehre) at a sort of library for schools, and attending
college part-time, and had now got a job in Basel working
for the chemical firm CIBA, using my knowledge of English.
Basel was a cosmopolitan city and I met several
English-speaking people while living there. In 1969 I
finally escaped! I had kept in touch with several old
school friends and managed to get a lift with an English
lorry driver from Basel back to England, where I then headed
for Brighton (on the south coast) to be with an old friend
who was now at Sussex University. I was home! Life was
wonderful—I had lots of money, which I had earned in Basel,
and living in England was very cheap at the time. I spent
the summer on the beach, and traveling around Europe with
new-found friends. I ended up living in Brighton for
several years, taking mostly easy office jobs (I wasn't a
hugely career-minded. person!)
parents remain in Switzerland? Are they still living?
their 14 years living in Switzerland from 1964 onwards, they
managed to save enough money to buy themselves a brand
new house in England when they came back here to retire in
Trudi, Nick & Diana, Victoria Station London 1978
They exchanged that house for a bungalow in Horsham
(where Hugo and I live) about 15 years later, and after Dad
died in 1998 my mother bought a ground floor flat (what you
call an apartment, I think) instead. Four years later, when
property here had rocketed in value, she traded in her flat
for yet another flat, but this one was in Switzerland! So,
at the age of 78, she uprooted herself yet again and moved
back to Switzerland, to be with her remaining brothers and
sisters, and also her three sons and four grandsons.
Meanwhile, I remain firmly rooted in England!
Dad's ashes (he
was cremated) were scattered in his favorite park
near here, watched by the resident herd of deer,
which he loved. If I had started my family
research just a couple of years earlier, I would have
taken some of the ashes back to Uihei.
Are you married or do you have a
significant other in your life? If so, would you like to
tell us anything about you and your other half?
couple of relationships, I eventually met my soul
mate, Hugo, and we have been together for 20 years.
His father is from Romania, too – an ethnic German
from Transylvania – and lives literally around the
corner from where we now live, in Horsham, about 20 miles north of Brighton. Although 90 years old, he is still very
mentally alert and always enjoys reading all the Banat books I order (and rarely have time to read myself!).
still employed or retired? What are your interests and hobbies?
the past 25 years I have earned my living as a freelance,
self-taught traditional signwriter,** although most of this
work is now done by firms using computers, so I have a lot
more time to devote to my other work and hobbies. I
recently started a pet-sitting service, as both Hugo and I
adore animals (we have no children), and the rest of my time
is currently taken up with genealogical research for the
whole village of Uihei, with choral singing, which I love,
and I am also a musician for a Morris Dance side
(traditional English folk dancing). I had to give up acting
with our local theatre group after 15 years, and also
playing the clarinet, as there just weren't enough hours in
the day! I've been spending a lot of time doing
translations in the past three years, too – mainly from
German, but also some French. Plus, of course, running
websites for four DVHH villages, although one has now been
taken over by Nick Tullius, and I am only keeping the one
site for Uihei regularly updated.
What got you
started in doing genealogical research; what year did you
I started doing genealogical
research about five years ago. Hugo had bought our first
computer in order to listen to Internet radio. I was
playing around with some old photographs on the scanner,
which featured my father as a young boy in America (he lived
in Philadelphia for five years between 1922 and 1927 with
his parents and several relatives before returning to Uihei).
Just on a whim, I searched for Ellis Island on the Internet,
thinking this would have been where the ship would have
docked all those years ago. To my amazement, I found that
the organization had just started to show ships manifests on
the Internet. I typed in my grandparents' names, and was
amazed when the actual typed and handwritten manifest showed
up on the screen, with 24 columns of information about the
I think we can all relate to the thrill of seeing our first
manifest for family come up on the screen!]
I then found the Banat List and
eventually got Sorin Fortiu in Timisoara to trace my family
line, which he did. Since then, the Grossjetscha
Ortssippenbuch has been published, and my family can be
traced back four generations through this.
I am currently working on a Family
Book for Uihei, as the Bogarosch Family
Book (which would include Uihei as a filial parish) is yet
to be published, and I would like there to be a separate
book for Uihei anyway!
looking at church records
been successful in your research?
I have been incredibly lucky in my
Lambing research, as three other researchers from the same
line have been beavering [Interviewer: What a great
verb!] away in different parts of the world. One person is
Bernadette Heringer, who lives not far from Bickenholz in
the Lothringen region, where my ancestor who migrated to the
Banat had previously lived. She has done a tremendous
amount of research in her area and has supplied me with
several original church records of our family, mostly in
French. Another lady in France has managed to trace the
family back even further, when our family lived in Buire, a
village in the Picardie region of northern France. The
third person is Orvill Paller, whose wife is a Lambing,
too. As luck would have it, Orvill actually works for the
Family History Library in Utah! He has been amazing in
supplying printed copies from the microfilms which record
all our family events, including the ones from Buire which
are written in Latin and French, showing that our oldest
known ancestor was born in 1606.
own family line has a very good chance of carrying on for
several generations, as two of my brothers have produced two
sons each. They all live in Switzerland, but as two of them
have an Ethiopian mother, and have already been to see their
maternal grandmother in Africa twice, our family name may
well end up spreading to the African continent!
Do you use
software for recording your family information–if so, which
Not being very good at using the
computer, I have always kept track of my family tree on
paper, rather than relying on the computer. Maybe just as
well, as when I DID use software, I lost everything when our
computer was changed! However, I have now put everything
about our Lambing history onto my Uihei website at
'Lambing' in the menu.
Who of all
your ancestors has made the biggest impression on you? Why?
think it has to be Sondag Lambing (also known as Demange or
Dominik), probably because I have been able to track his
life from when he was born in Bickenholz in 1731, right
through his marriage to Jeanne (aka Anna) Schütz and their
first six children being born in Bickenholz, before
following the route they took when the family migrated to
the Banat in 1768. Soon after they arrived in Grossjetscha,
their fifth child (my direct ancestor, Joannes Michael) was
born, and later three more children were born. One of my
favourite documents is the long marriage record between
Sondag and Jeanne (Anna), and his lovely signature! I love
collecting all the different signatures of my ancestors.
What has been
your most remarkable find in your roots research? Has your
world opened in that you have found living relatives you
didn’t know existed?
One of my best finds is that my
grandfather had a younger brother who was born in Uihei in
1896 (these records have not been available to view in
Romania), and who had immigrated to America. Having already
found out that my grandmother, Susanna Lambing née
Engelmann, had a sister, Anna, in Philadelphia—I have a
photo of this sister with her husband who was from
Grossjetscha, plus several of their 16 children (!), and
also with my father and grandfather on the photo—I was
contacted by a lady in Philadelphia who was convinced I was
related to someone she knew. For months, I doubted her
claim, especially when she talked about me having a sister
(which I don't have!). Finally, I received a letter in the
post from a Dorothy Lambing-Conlan in America, with several
photographs attached. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw
a photo of myself and my youngest brother (with curly hair,
hence the assumption he was a girl) taken in 1951! There
were pictures of my grandfather, too, from his time in
America—he was actually the godfather to Dorothy's sister.
And then there were pictures of his younger brother,
Matthew, whom I never knew existed, and his whole family.
Finally, there were two pictures of my Lambing
great-grandparents in Uihei, which I had never seen. [Interviewer: Yes, those are
the goosebump times when something special like the photos
We know you
have visited your ancestral village—is there anything you’d
like to tell us about that experience?
visited Uihei in 2004 for the first time after 35 years, I
found my grandparents' grave and was thrilled, as I had only
seen it in a photograph. Once I began to notate every grave
in the cemetery, I also found the grave of my
great-grandparents, which was a wonderful discovery. When I
went back this year (2005), I realized that another grave
next to that one was that of my great-great-grandparents!
Yet another 'discovery', although
a bit of a long shot, is that of Denis Lambin (Dionysius
Lambinus), born around 1516/1519 and who died in Paris in
1572. Although we are not sure if, or how, Denis Lambin is
related to our line, it certainly seems a possibility as he
was born in Montreuil-sur-Mer in Picardie in northern
France, which is the region where our first known Lambing
ancestors came from. He was a French humanist, famous for
his editions of Latin authors, and I have a book of letters
written by him in Greek and Latin, which have been
translated into French.
What were some
of your family traditions that were practiced when you were
a child that today you realize were part of your
Donauschwaben heritage? Do you still practice any of these
don't remember any particular traditions that our family
practiced which were from our Donauschwaben heritage,
although it's possible there were one or two without me
realizing they weren't English traditions. However, I do
remember Dad using several words and phrases throughout his
life, which as a child were mostly gobbledegook to me, but
which I later realized were true schwobisch words.
Do you have
a motto you live by? Will you share it with us?
always found that a sense of humour will get you through
sites or references that have been helpful and that you feel
would be of benefit to the DVHH members?
Of course, there are numerous
helpful sites in German, and I have found several HOG
websites helpful in my own research—for example those under
www.banat.de - but one
needs to be able to read German. I also regularly check the ZVAB antiquarian book site. I think the DVHH site covers
pretty much everything that one needs, though, and I'm
always amazed at how much Jody (McKim) has been able to put
onto the site. I just wish I had more time to check it out
If you were
confined to only one tip you might give a fellow researcher,
what would it be?
Once you have been researching for a couple of years, go back through all your old notes. What may once have seemed insignificant und unimportant may well prove to be a vital clue later! [Interviewer: Oh, that’s so true!]
If you were
creating a family crest, what images would you include and
what would they represent?
representing gentleness and my love of animals – and, of
course, linked to the English word 'lambing', which however
has no connection to our family name! An oak tree as a
symbol of our strong family roots (and I have always loved
trees, anyway). A wavy blue line, symbolizing the rivers and
oceans dividing our families.
how’s this for
Thank you, Diana, for sharing so
much with us - both in this interview and in your presence on
the DVHH list - you are, indeed, a Shaker and a Mover!
'tied cottage' is one that belongs to the employer, i.e. is
part of their estate. It's part of our historical feudal
system, whereby the wealthy aristocracy owns large areas of
land and all the buildings on it-- usually a grand country
house, plus stables etc., and several 'tied cottages' in
which the serfs or workers lived. The cottage came with the
job, which was generally working on the farm or in the
gardens of the estate, or as a butler or maid in the grand
a signwriter, I would sometimes design a sign from
scratch for a client, as well as carry out the actual
painting of it. Other clients would have a vague idea of
what they wanted, and I would put their idea into reality.
Others would know exactly what they wanted and would supply
the artwork, so all I needed to do was the physical painting
of the sign. I would signwrite vans, shop fascias, trade
boards, house signs, estate agent signs, honours boards for
schools and clubs or societies and occasionally other
commissions such as murals, boats, or painting in the
carved-out names on war memorials. I would sometimes need
to build the framed wooden signs myself, which would test my
carpentry skills! However, since the advent of computers
most of the work is now done by them, and instead of
traditional painting skills they now use adhesive vinyl
which is just cut out by machine and stuck onto the
background. A signMAKER, as opposed to a signWRITER, would
supply the other types of signs, for example 3D plastic or
metal or illuminated letters and signs etc.
by Rose Mary Keller Hughes
& the DVHH ...
The Collected Works of Diana Lambing
Diana is a
member of the Original DVHH Administration Team, which focuses on decision
making and planning for the DVHH project.
Diana for your contributions to the DS community
and the DVHH
Diana is now retired, 16 Aug 2020.